When we think about the role women played during the pre-Hispanic period, what comes to mind? Noble house servants? Mothers? Princesses that married to maintain social status? While this was indeed the reality for many women, there were also women during this time that defied the norms and made history.
While it’s true that noble Mayan women often rose to power through matrimony, many of them were respected warriors and queens that ruled in their own, unique way.Ix Sak K’uk, Lady Beastie
This woman was ruler of Bakaal during a time of great social crises. Regardless of having given birth the hereditary successor to the throne, it is believed she continued to rule for quite some time prior to turning over power to her son, Pakal.
As they say, “Behind a great woman, lies a great woman”. One of the greatest of all time was the wife of “ahau”, or a ruler commonly known as “The great, K’inch Janaab’ Pakal”.
She became known as Ix Tz’akbu Ajak, a woman who retained power over Palenque until her early 60’s when she passed away and was entombed in a sarcophagus adorned with decorations and jewelry made for a Queen.When she was discovered in 1994, archeologists uncovered the remains of a woman from the VII century that contained a reddish-hue, for which reason she became known as the “Red Queen”.
This woman, daughter of Kan Balam I, rose to power in 583 A.D., and during her time, defended Bakal from attacks by Calakmul. Astonishingly, for a woman of this period, she obtained rule for more than 20 years.
Today, women (especially indigenous woman) continue to face tough situations. Nonetheless, they remain strong. Within Alltournative alone, 200 mothers of Mayan communities have integrated into the local economy based on ecotourism. Supporting their families through hard work.
This year, it’s time to these women that we stand with them. To all the women present in our lives, and to those we know that wake up each morning to continue the fight; we recognize your strength and wish to remind you that you are not forgotten.